Jul 5, 2022 - News

NC Gov. Roy Cooper's state budget dilemma

Photo illustration of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper with lines radiating from him.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Charlotte Observer/Getty Images

Gov. Roy Cooper is faced with the decision on whether to sign, veto or allow the spending plan passed last week by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature.

Context: Cooper, who has just two years left in his term, has yet to achieve one of his top priorities — Medicaid expansion. He's come close twice in the past year, including in the latest round of budget negotiations. The policy ultimately wasn't included in the budget lawmakers sent to his desk last week.

Why it matters: The $27.9 billion budget includes dozens of provisions with bipartisan support, including millions in funding for economic development projects that would bring thousands of jobs to North Carolina.

  • That presents Cooper with a dilemma over whether he should sign the budget, let it become law without his signature to move those major projects forward, or veto it because it doesn't include expansion.
  • Vetoing it would hold up billions of dollars meant to bolster state agencies and projects across the state (unless the legislature overrides his veto).

"It looked like a whole lot of folks at the General Assembly are on board with it, and hopefully that resonates with him," Senate leader Phil Berger told The News & Observer.

Worth noting: The budget, which passed 38-9 in the Senate and 85-27 in the House, also includes an average 4.2% raises for teachers alongside conservative priorities like funding for "opportunity scholarships" for low-income public school students to pay for private school tuition.

  • Democrats argued it should've included more money for teachers and other state employees.

What's next: Three significant economic development projects would receive incentives under the proposed budget:

Those projects are among some of the largest in the state, and in the case of Vinfast, could begin next year.

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